COLUMBIA — Outside the Armory Sports and Community Center on Tuesday, a dog with Sen. Barack Obama's campaign logo painted on his head sat with three high school Obama campaign volunteers passing out stickers, water and chips. They had been there since 6:30 a.m.
Ben Ogawa, Dalton Perry and Andrea Martin said they are using their day off from school to encourage people waiting in line to stick it out and vote. They were passing out water and chips for anyone in line, regardless of political party.
"If someone comes to vote for McCain, we'll still give them food," Ogawa, 17, said.
The students had given away a lot of stickers and water already, they said, but still anticipated a longer line later in the day. Perry, who recently turned 18, said he expected the line to reach outside the door by late afternoon. They want to make sure people don't get frustrated and leave during the wait.
"In order for a true election to take place, everyone needs to vote," Ogawa said.
The volunteers were kicked off the premises for about 30 minutes when an officer from the Parks and Recreation Department asked poll workers to have the students removed. The poll worker said the state looked like it was showing favoritism by having them there.
"Things escalated quickly," Ogawa said.
The students soon returned, though, because they were positioned outside the 25-foot limit for campaigning and were within their rights. They plan to stay there until the polls close and all potential voters are gone.